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Recent Reviews


Stephen W. McDermott
Visual Art, “Happy Meals,”
Gay City News
Dec. 6-12, 2002, pg. 16.

“In Michael Tice’s painting, “Unusual Balance,” two men share the canvas; whether they share the same space or whether they’re independent images remains unclear.  Tice treats the men and the space they occupy with a Gauguinesque flatness of color.

The man at right is seen from his head to his thighs; his left hand is resting on his pubic hairs, his right hand is touching his left chest.  An object in the upper right of the canvas could be a light or a showerhead.  The showerhead version explains the hand positions and the presence of the second man on the left of the canvas.  He has his hands at his sides.  His face is hidden by a kind of filigree shadow, which also covers the entire left back ground. 

The two men are separated by a kind of partition—which could be the line of a shower stall; it’s an ambiguity that pervades the entire canvas and one that intrigues the viewer.”

Marie R. Pagano
Figurative & Portraiture
Gallery & Studio M
March/April 2001.

The paintings of Michael Tice combine a narrative mood with decorative charm and a sense of childhood nostalgia.  Tice evokes settings and atmospheres reminiscent of 1950s ‘Dick and Jane’ readers and colorful story books to hint at the anxiety underlying an orderly suburban world.  With its skillful figuration and pleasing colors, Tice’s work candy coats a compelling psychological complexity, enabling the viewer to sense the discontent brewing beneath the idyllic surface of the American dream.”


Tom Mack
October 14, 2001
Aiken Standard, p. 8C

 Local Artist Michael Tice comes full circle in Aiken area

            Just over 20 years ago, before the Etherredge Center was built, I suddenly found myself organizing art exhibitions in the lobby of USCA’s Student Activities Center.  At that time, the university had a Faculty Fine Arts Committee that was responsible for a good deal of cultural programming on campus, and I was, off and on, the chair of that committee for a number of years.

            I remember well one particular exhibition on the 1979-1980 gallery calendar.  It was a one-man show by Augusta native Michael Tice, who for a time had been an undergraduate at USCA before earning his BFA in printmaking and drawing from USC-Columbia.

            When he exhibited his mixed media pieces in February of 1980 at USCA, Tice was enjoying a prestigious Individual Artist’s Fellowship from the South Carolina Arts Commission. 

            It was also in 1980 that Michael Tice moved to New York City, which was then as it is now the center of the American arts scene.  He’s worked steadily ever since and exhibited in nearly 100 solo and group exhibitions in New York and other locations.

            This month the prodigal returns to Aiken.  Until Nov. 9, the Aiken Center for the Arts will play host to an exhibition of selected works from the last 10 years of Tice’s career.

            His newest paintings, a series entitled “Friends and Neighbors,” were recently featured in a one-man show at 55 Mercer Gallery in New York.

            On the surface, these appear to be images that celebrate the nuclear family replete with the proverbial two parents and 2.5 children.  Yet, there is something lurking behind the happy smiles and the enforced togetherness.  Even the titles hint at hidden truths.  The largest piece in this series, for example, “Nothing Out of the Ordinary to the Casual Observer,” includes a family grouping in which at least one member is fixated on the ground as if probing secrets embedded in the soil rather than buried within the human heart.

            In this series, Tice himself says he was inspired by popular imagery from his own childhood such as “old photographs, cartoons, Dick and Jane books, illustrations from the 1950s.”  Yet, like any serious artist, Tice manipulates these elements to serve his own creative intentions.

            In scanning his latest work, I was pleased to find a link to Tice’s creative vision of 20 years ago.  I am referring to his incorporation of fragments of text.  Among several early Tice pieces in my own collection, is a small-scale pen and ink drawing entitled “Little Sir Realist Picture,” a work composed of two separate layers of imagery and text, the first rendered in black ink on September 10, 1979 and the second rendered in red ink on November 10, 1979.  The interplay of word and image simultaneously complicates and enriches the visual experience.

            Similarly, in the current show at Aiken Center for the Arts, is an ink and watercolor piece entitled “Happy Land,” which like so many pieces in the “Friends and Neighbors” series, is essentially a reconfigured memory piece, a pastiche of images from the artist’s own boyhood.  In this case, running along the bottom edge of the visual material is a quote from recent American Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, who asks the following question, “What is imagination but your lost child born to give birth to you?”

            This is the core of Tice’s desire to revisit the imagery of his youth; it is, in large measure, a means by which he can try to trace the origins of his own imaginative resources.  In reexamining his childhood, he hopes to tap the wellspring of his own creativity. 

            Such is the strategy evident in an oil on canvas work entitled “From Here to There.”  The central figure, a young boy in blue t-shirt and white shorts, stands pensively with his hands folded before him.

            He is surrounded by both text and image.  To the viewer’s left are the words “my mind wandered to the forgotten ghosts…the shadows of the past like broken toys”; all around him is plant life whose fecundity mirrors the miracle of human growth and development but whose tendrils hint at the pull of home and hearth, the forces that sometimes root us to a particular place or posture.

            These encircling vines, present in many of the works in this series, are often, as is the case in “From Here to There,” counterbalanced by the presence of bird forms, emblematic of humanity’s ability to transcend its physical limitations in flights of intellect and imagination.

            As is often the case with art in its most compelling incarnations, the 34 in this impressive one-person show offer each viewer considerable occasion for personal reflection and recognition.  “Michael Tice: Selected Paintings, 1991-2001” continues until Nov. 9 in the Founder’s Gallery at the Aiken Center for the Arts on Laurens Street in downtown Aiken.

            Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 p.m. to 3 p.m.  For more information on the full range of Michael Tice’s work over the last 20 years, one can access the artist’s website at http://www.michaeltice.com.



Whitney Combs
September 2001
ew York Arts Magazine

ichael Tice’s exhibition of 25 oil paintings and drawings “Friends and Neighbors,” depicts scenes which look like they could be used for billboards advertising very early sixties planned communities.  A typical work will contain a family unit ( Mom, Dad, sons and daughters) and perhaps a few extra children and then perhaps a home or a car and all of these may be set in a landscape or in shallow perspective with additional renderings of baroque, swirling vegetation creating a pattern throughout the painting.  In addition, text appears and some paint looks as if applied with a piece of lace or some other tightly patterned surface.  The text of the titles seems innocuous but in a work like Make a Wish (Nothing Personal) the  viewer notices that not only does the text of the title appear in the painting in small print but so do other phrases “Warning this dream may be contaminated” and “I am a reject from the world wide internet.”   As the viewer might guess, these are not works of light-hearted nostalgia.  Some paintings, like A Perfect Day, 2000, are chock full of swirling leaves and circles and other geometric patterns and others like Modern Memories, 2001 are more straightforward landscapes.  Despite the similarities between many of the paintings, the works of “Friends and Neighbors” cover wildly divergent territories; Ready for Anything depicts a young adult staring out of the painting almost challenging the viewer; Friendly Neighbors present a sexily posed woman (along, again, with children and a male figure) in a stylish bathing suit of some decades ago; and See Jane Fly puts emphasis on a young girl with outstretched arms (she is surrounded by birds in the painting). Tice says of these works, “ The ‘Friends and Neighbors’ series ostensibly deals with imagery derived from old photographs, cartoons,  ‘Dick and Jane’ books, clunky illustrations in black-and-white advertisements from the 1950s, decorative patterns,  and in some cases, fragments of text --- to create layers of meaning.”  As with all art, some layers of meaning may  or may not be intended, but one motif in this viewer’s mind was the figure (visible in See Jane Fly  and other works) of a boy turned from the viewer looking up with his arms akimbo.  And suddenly the artist activist group , Boys with Arms Akimbo, leaps to mind, and puts a whole new twist on the works. 




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